Christian Hook has tonight been crowned the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014. The 43 year-old, originally from Gibraltar, saw off competition from more than 1,600 artists to secure the title in the highly competitive Sky Arts series.
Hook has won a £10,000 commission to paint a portrait of award-winning actor Alan Cumming for The Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
“Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 has been an incredibly challenging feat and I am very proud to have won. It has allowed me to dig deep and push myself to new limits. I am truly honoured to have been given the opportunity to take part in this fantastic series. I’ve had the chance to work aside some of UK’s finest portrait artists and learn from them. Painting Sir Ian McKellen live at the National Portrait Gallery was a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.” – Christian Hook
The tense final, broadcast on Sky Arts 1 at 8pm, was held at the National Portrait Gallery in London and was the culmination of a 10 month search for the most talented portrait artist in the UK and Ireland. Christian won with a portfolio of work completed throughout the series including his final two pieces, a commission portrait of former two time world champion boxer Amir Khan and a portrait painted live in the gallery of acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen.
The series judges, independent curator and art historian Kathleen Soriano, Director of the Fine Arts Society Kate Bryan, and portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg, praised Hook’s body of work commenting that Christian “struck gold with his portraits.”
Christian’s portrait of Cumming will be on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from 30 December 2014 and will join the gallery’s collection of internationally outstanding works of art. Christian also receives a year’s supply of art materials courtesy of leading fine art supplier Cass Art.
The competition started earlier this year with heats held in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin. The semi-final saw seven artists paint a double portrait of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Anglican priest Sally Hitchiner. Finalists Christian, Aine Divine and Laura Quinn were then set an individual portrait commission challenge, painting boxer Amir Khan, Voice Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Cicely Berry and renowned soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Their work was displayed and judged at the National Portrait Gallery in the closely fought final, alongside their portrait of Sir Ian McKellen.
“Christian creates work which interrogates the boundaries between figuration and abstraction beautifully, lending his sitters a unique sense of energy. I love the way his work is so filmic, it speaks of another era in some ways but yet feels totally new.” – Series judge Kate Bryan
Christian studied illustration at Middlesex University before establishing a career as an illustrator. After lecturing in illustration at the Royal College of Art and other universities his interest shifted to the fine arts. For the last few years Christian has been working as an artist focusing on depicting motion and time in his work.
Portrait Artist of the Year: Painting Alan Cumming airs on Tuesday 30th December 8pm on Sky Arts 1. Portrait Artist of The Year 2014 is available to watch via Sky on demand.